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Guidelines for 2022 Chief FOIA Officer Reports

Guidelines for 2022 Chief FOIA Officer Reports

The FOIA requires all agency Chief FOIA Officers to report to the Attorney General on their performance in implementing the FOIA.  5 U.S.C. § 552(j)(2)(D) (2018).  The Department of Justice’s 2009 FOIA Guidelines highlight the key role played by each agency’s Chief FOIA Officer and emphasize that “[i]mproving FOIA performance requires the[ir] active participation.”  Accordingly, DOJ directs agency Chief FOIA Officers to review “all aspects of their agencies’ FOIA administration” and to report each year to the Department of Justice on the steps taken “to improve FOIA operations and facilitate information disclosure.”

Since 2010, agencies have highlighted in their Chief FOIA Officer Reports a wide range of initiatives, big and small, that have been undertaken to improve transparency in keeping with DOJ’s 2009 FOIA Guidelines.  Every year since the establishment of this reporting requirement, OIP has prepared a comprehensive annual assessment of agency compliance with the FOIA, which combines pertinent details outlined by agencies in their Chief FOIA Officer Reports with data from their Annual FOIA Reports.  These assessments are accompanied by a summary of agency Chief FOIA Officer Reports, which describes the various initiatives undertaken by agencies. Additionally, each year during Sunshine Week, OIP highlights success stories from the Chief FOIA Officer Reports. OIP will once again prepare and release an assessment after the submission of the 2022 Chief FOIA Officer Reports. 

In addition to the summary and assessment, based on its review of agency Chief FOIA Officer Reports, OIP issues guidance each year on steps that can be taken by agencies to achieve greater transparency in the years ahead.  Over the last eight years, these guidance articles have addressed the importance of:

  • strategically managing backlogs,
  • reducing the age of pending requests,
  • updating FOIA Reference Guides,
  • posting raw data comprising agency Annual FOIA Reports,
  • utilizing advanced technology to process requests,
  • limitations on the use of “still interested” letters,
  • identifying proactive disclosures,
  • conducting self-assessments,
  • focusing on quality FOIA training,
  • closing the ten oldest pending requests and appeals pending at each agency every year,
  • utilizing multitrack processing,
  • improving processing times for simple track requests, and
  • communicating with requesters electronically.

Topics to be Addressed and Format of 2022 Chief FOIA Officer Reports

In accordance with the DOJ’s 2009 FOIA Guidelines, OIP is charged with the responsibility of providing guidance to agencies on the timing and content of agency Chief FOIA Officer Reports to the Attorney General.  The guidelines for the 2022 reports are set out below.

While the overall topics to be addressed in the reports remain the same, for 2022 OIP has once again modified and updated the questions that are asked.  As agencies continue to make improvements to their FOIA operations it is important that the Chief FOIA Officer Reports reflect the more advanced steps agencies are taking to implement FOIA law and policy.  At the same time, it is also important that the Chief FOIA Officer Reports address those areas where agencies need to improve.  

Reporting Standards for Agencies Based on Volume of Requests Received

In 2014, OIP began issuing separate reporting requirements for agencies based on the volume of the FOIA requests they receive.  As in prior years, the requirements for the Chief FOIA Officer Reports differ depending upon whether the agency received more than 50 requests in the preceding fiscal year.

Agencies that received more than 50 requests in Fiscal Year 2020:

In order to complete the 2022 Chief FOIA Officer Report, these agencies should answer the questions provided in this template.

As in previous years, the 2022 Chief FOIA Officer Reports should provide an overall picture of each agency’s activities.  Thus, even for those agencies that process requests on a decentralized basis, by component, the Chief FOIA Officer Report should contain agency overall answers and should not be broken down by component.  Instead, it should be organized by the five key topical areas.  Then, within the discussion of each key area, data and examples from the agency’s various components can be provided.  That approach makes it easier to get a picture of how the agency as a whole is addressing all the various aspects of their FOIA administration. 

Agencies that received 50 requests or less in Fiscal Year 2020:

Agencies with low volumes of requests are not required to report if they believe that their Annual FOIA Report provides a sufficient accounting of their efforts to effectively and efficiently administer the FOIA.  While not required, OIP does encourage low volume agencies to provide descriptions of any FOIA efforts or success stories that are not captured in their Annual FOIA Report.  OIP highlights these examples in its Summaries of the Chief FOIA Office Reports and during other public presentations, such as DOJ’s Sunshine Week event, for the benefit of all agencies.  Such examples can also help inform OIP in our efforts to encourage government-wide compliance with the FOIA.  Small volume agencies that have information to report can use this template to provide their narrative. 

Deadlines for Submitting 2022 Chief FOIA Officer Reports

All agencies receiving more than 50 requests must submit their 2022 Chief FOIA Officer Reports to OIP for review no later than Monday, January 10, 2022.

Agencies receiving 50 requests or less that choose to report should provide their 2022 Chief FOIA Officer Reports to OIP for review no later than Friday, February 11, 2022.

The drafts should be submitted by email to (link sends e-mail).  Please use the following text for the subject line of the email:  Draft [insert agency name] Chief FOIA Officer Report.

For agencies receiving more than 50 requests, once your report is reviewed and cleared by OIP, it should be posted on your agency’s website.  Agencies receiving 50 requests or less that choose to report are encouraged to post their reports online as well.  OIP, in turn, will make all posted Chief FOIA Officer Reports available to the public on the Department of Justice’s website.  For 2022, agency Chief FOIA Officer Reports should be posted in final form by no later than Monday, March 14, 2022.

If you have any questions regarding your agency’s 2022 Chief FOIA Officer Report, you can contact OIP’s FOIA Compliance Team at 202-514-3642, or by using the e-mail noted above.

Time Frame for Report

Unless otherwise noted, agency 2022 Chief FOIA Officer Reports should address agency activities that have occurred since the posting deadline of last year’s Report, which was March 15, 2021, up until the posting of the 2022 Report (March 14, 2022).  Thus, the general reporting period for the Chief FOIA Officer Reports is March 2021 to March 2022.

Agencies Receiving More Than 50 Requests in Fiscal Year 2020

AMTRAK (National Railroad Passenger Corporation)

Central Intelligence Agency

Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board

Commodity Futures Trading Commission

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Council on Environmental Quality

Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency

Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency

Dept. of Agriculture

Dept. of Commerce

Dept. of Defense

Dept. of Education

Dept. of Energy

Dept. of Health and Human Services

Dept. of Homeland Security

Dept. of Housing and Urban Development

Dept. of Justice

Dept. of Labor

Dept. of State

Dept. of the Interior

Dept. of the Treasury

Dept. of Transportation

Dept. of Veterans Affairs

Environmental Protection Agency

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Export-Import Bank

Federal Communications Commission

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

Federal Election Commission

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Federal Housing Finance Agency

Federal Labor Relations Authority

Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service

Federal Reserve System

Federal Trade Commission

General Services Administration

Merit Systems Protection Board

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

National Archives and Records Administration

National Credit Union Administration

National Endowment for the Humanities

National Labor Relations Board

National Science Foundation

National Transportation Safety Board

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission

Office of Government Ethics

Office of Management and Budget

Office of National Drug Control Policy

Office of Personnel Management

Office of Science and Technology Policy

Office of Special Counsel

Office of the Director of National Intelligence

Office of the U.S. Trade Representative

Overseas Private Investment Corporation

Peace Corps

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation

Railroad Retirement Board

Securities and Exchange Commission

Small Business Administration

Social Security Administration

Tennessee Valley Authority

U.S. Agency for Global Media

U.S. Agency for International Development

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission

U.S. International Development Finance Corporation

U.S. Postal Service

Agencies Receiving 50 Requests or Less in Fiscal Year 2020

Administrative Conference of the United States

Advisory Council on Historic Preservation

American Battle Monuments Commission

Appraisal Subcommittee

Armed Forces Retirement Home

Commission on Fine Arts

Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled

Corporation for National and Community Service 

Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board

Denali Commission

Farm Credit Administration

Farm Credit System Insurance Corporation

Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council

Federal Maritime Commission

Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission

Federal Open Market Committee

Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board

Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council

Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation

Institute of Museum and Library Services

Inter-American Foundation

James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation

Legal Services Corporation

Marine Mammal Commission

Millennium Challenge Corporation

Morris K. Udall Foundation

National Capital Planning Commission

National Council on Disability

National Endowment for the Arts

National Indian Gaming Commission

National Mediation Board

National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence

Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation

Office of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation

Presidio Trust

Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board

Selective Service System

Social Security Advisory Board 

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction

Surface Transportation Board 

U.S. Access Board

U.S. African Development Foundation

U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

U.S. Copyright Office

U.S. Election Assistance Commission

U.S. Institute of Peace 

U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness 

U.S. International Trade Commission

U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board

U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission

U.S. Trade and Development Agency


Updated September 30, 2021